A friend of mine recently confessed that he’d made a big mistake buying a home with a swimming pool.
He said if he had a do-over, he would never have considered a house with a pool in the backyard knowing what he knows now.
I asked why, since it seemed to me like a good investment at the time — with his two young boys and daughter — I would have guessed the pool was getting a lot of use.
But after an hour long chat, it became pretty clear that the list of cons for owning a swimming pool clearly outnumber the pros.
Here are my friend’s 10 biggest regrets to owning a swimming pool:
Regret #1: Costly Maintenance
Whether you hire a pool maintenance service or do it yourself, there’s no cheap way to maintain a pool. If you do it yourself, you have to buy equipment, vacuums, nets, hoses, and add chemicals. These expenses all add up. And if you get someone else to clean your pool, you’re looking at close to $500 per month.
The average cost to maintain a 14 ft. by 18 ft. pool is $125 per week. Service includes skimming the water’s surface for floating debris, vacuuming the pool floor, brushing the pool walls, cleaning the filter, as well as checking the water and pH levels.
On top of that, you need to adjust your budget based on where you live. If you’re in temperate areas like Washington or Ohio, pool season typically starts around Memorial Day and ends just after Labor Day.
But, if you live in Florida or Arizona, pools are year-round affairs that suck your wallet and time dry.
Regret #2: Repairs
In addition to regular weekly maintenance, your pool will occasionally need repairs. It could be something minor like a small leak in the lining that you can patch up yourself or you might be on the hook for a costlier repair.
On average, you’ll pay $200 to have a professional come repair a tear in a vinyl liner. If the entire liner needs to be replaced, expect to pay a minimum $1,700 for parts and labor.
If you have issues with your pool’s plumbing, which can lead to problems with your pool filter pump and heater, you’re looking at around $1,000 to have someone come look at the issue and fix whatever is wrong.
A good tip if you’re considering buying a house with a pool is to ask the seller lots of questions about previous repair work. If you find out there’s been quite a few small repairs, that’s a warning sign there could be something larger to come.
Regret #3: Higher Energy Bills
If you think your energy bills are high enough in the heat of summer, look at someone’s bill who owns a pool. My friend says he pays an extra $300 a year in electricity to run his pool pump and whatnot.
And if your pool is heated, you’re looking at spending an average $100 – $600 a month! If you have a heat pump, you’re on the low end. If your pool uses an electrical resistance heater, you’ll be paying even more. Gas heaters are also common and will run you about $200 – $400 a month.
Regret #4: Safety Risks
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, nearly 300 children under the age of five drown in swimming pools every year. A lot of cities require safety barriers to be installed around residential pools to prevent accidental drownings.
A pool fence for an above-ground pool starts at $50 per panel at Home Depot. In-ground fencing will cost you a lot more. You can also get door alarms and other safety features that add up.
Regret #5: You Might Need Additional Insurance
Insurance providers like to call residential pools “attractive nuisances.” Because your liability increases when you own a pool, you may need to bump up liability coverage on your homeowners policy.
A good idea would be to look into buying personal umbrella insurance. If you ever get sued, the umbrella policy kicks in once you’ve exhausted your homeowners liability coverage, which usually maxes out around $100,000-$300,000. You can buy a $1 million umbrella liability policy for as little as $150 a year.
Regret #6: The Resale Value Is Not What You Think
Adding a swimming pool to your backyard should boost your home’s resale value, or at least that’s what you’ve been told. The reality is homeowners with pools only saw a 48% return on investment at resale, according to the National Association of Realtors’ newest remodeling impact report.
In contrast, a new wooden deck would recoup 80% of the cost at resale. So although a pool is nice to have, it’s not going to increase the resale value of your home by much.
Regret #7: Water Attracts Wildlife
This might not sound like such a bad thing if you love animals. But when a raccoon is swimming in the same water you dunk your head in every morning, it’s not so nice.
Not to mention mosquitoes and other water-loving bugs will be drawn to your backyard oasis.
Skimming the surface to remove bugs helps, but it’s time-consuming and you spend less time actually swimming than you do cleaning.
Bugs also attract larger animals, like raccoons and birds, which carry some nasty parasites that can contaminate the water. Ducks and geese droppings also can lead to illnesses like Salmonella and E. coli.
And if you live where there’s alligators and snakes, you might find an unwelcome guest one morning making a home in your pool.
There you have it. A few things to consider before buying a house with a pool. That said, a pool is still a personal preference.
Lots of people find the pros outweigh the cons so it’s up to you to decide what’s best.
To a richer life,
— Nilus Mattive
Editor, The Rich Life Roadmap